Practical Technology

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If it’s animation or special effects, it’s Linux


When I was a kid, I used to make crude little animated cartoons in my notebooks using the flipbook technique. Walt Disney had nothing to worry about. I was awful even by the 3rd grade standards of White Pine elementary. Today, I could be great, because almost all top animation and special effects artists are Linux users.

My colleague Eric Lai discovered recently that while top animation and FX (special effects) programs are run on Macs and some of them, like RenderMan Pro Server are being ported to Windows, it’s on Linux clusters that the really serious movie and television visual effects are created. As Robin Rowe writes at, “In the film industry, Linux has won. It’s running on practically all servers and desktops used for feature animation and visual effects.”

Rowe’s not just being a Linux booster. It’s the Gospel truth. The animation and FX for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull; Star Wars: The Clone Wars; WALL-E; 300; The Golden Compass; Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix; and I Am Legend, to name but a few recent movies, were all created using Pixar’s RenderMan and Autodesk Maya running on Linux clusters.

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